Americans United for Separation of Church and State applauds U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) for re-introducing the Do No Harm Act today in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. This critical bill will preserve the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s power to protect religious freedom, while also clarifying that it may not be used to harm others.
“The Do No Harm Act Will Restore Our Country’s Founding Principle Of Religious Freedom”
Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United, issued the following statement:
“The Do No Harm Act will restore our country’s founding principle of religious freedom, which enables everyone to live as themselves and believe as they choose – so long as they don’t harm others.
“Congress must stop religious extremists and their political allies from exploiting the 30-year-old the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to license discrimination against LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities, nonreligious people and other vulnerable communities. RFRA was intended to protect religious free exercise, particularly for religious minorities. Originally supported by a broad coalition of unusual bedfellows, RFRA was certainly never meant as a tool to circumvent nondiscrimination protections and deny people access to health care, jobs and government-funded services. The Do No Harm Act will preserve RFRA’s original intent of protecting religious freedom while clarifying that it cannot be misused to deny people’s basic civil rights.
“We thank Reps. Scott, Cohen, Raskin and Scanlon and Senator Booker for sponsoring the Do No Harm Act, and we urge Congress to quickly pass this critical bill to ensure that religious freedom remains a shield that protects all of us, not a sword used to harm others.”
Background On The Do No Harm Act
In 1993, Americans United joined a diverse group – religious and nonreligious, liberal and conservative – to support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was intended to protect the free exercise of religion, particularly for people of minority faiths. But today, the law is being misused to create exemptions from laws that protect people’s basic civil rights. That is why an increasing number of organizations and individuals, including many who supported RFRA in 1993, agree that RFRA needs to be fixed.
The Do No Harm Act will preserve RFRA’s power to protect religious freedom, while also clarifying that it may not be used to harm others. The Do No Harm Act will amend RFRA to ensure that is not misused to:
- Undermine nondiscrimination laws
- Deny access to health care
- Evade child labor laws
- Thwart workplace protections (such as fair wage and equal pay laws)
- Refuse to provide government-funded services
- Refuse to perform duties as a government employee
Broad Support For The Do No Harm Act
More than 100 civil rights, LGBTQ, reproductive rights, health, labor and faith groups have endorsed the Do No Harm Act. That includes more than 30 organizations representing diverse faith traditions, such as the United Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society; T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministry; Uri L’Tzedek: Orthodox Social Justice; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A); American Baptist Home Mission Society; Circle Sanctuary; Disciples Center for Public Witness; Global Justice Institute, Metropolitan Community Churches; KARAMAH; and the National Council of Churches.
- More information on the Do No Harm Act is available here.
Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Associate Vice President of Communications